Complete Back Development

The following back workout routine was developed by golden era legend Boyer Coe around 1970. – Mr.Berg

“The title of this article will give you some indication of what I wish to discuss. So many people think only of wide “lats” when one seaks of back development. It is my intention to outline a back program that will not only give you wide sweeping lats but a thickly muscles upper and lower back as well.

So many bodybuilders, especially beginners, think that to develop a good back all one needs do is wide grips chins. Granted this one exercise will give you an impressive V-taper but this is not the answer to overall development of the back.

Before I outline the exercises and give a description of each I would like to bring out a point I feel that is important. This principle is Isolation. 

In most of the various parts of the body, complete isolation of the body part is not too difficult, but this is not true of the lats. Many times a fellow will work out for years and not completely isolate his lats.

Why? Unfortunately, any exercise that is done for the lats also works the arms to an extent. I’ve heard fellows say that they get a better arm pump from lat work than from their arm routine! This is generally true of beginners..their arms keep getting stronger, so they use them more. Their style is poor, so the arms keep getting stronger and stronger and the lats suffer accordingly. This is when concentration plays an important part. Think lats while you are doing the exercise. Visualize the lats working as you go through the exercise motion. Try to stretch the lats to maxcimum, go through a complete exercise motion.

Now for the exercises:

High pulls/Shrugs

These two exercises are for the upper back and trapezius region,. Bodybuilders can take a lesson from weightlifters here. Have you ever noticed the impressive trapezius development of a competitive weightlifter?

This comes from years of heavy pulling and cleaning movement. This is how I perform the exercise sequence. First perform a set of high pulls with weight heavy enough to perform only 6 reps. After the last rep set the bar down and grab a pair of heavy dumbbells and perform a set of shoulder shrigs for 6 reps. Perform 5 sets of 6 reps and your trapezius will soon be crowding your ears!

Next we will concentrate on the lower back and lumbar region which concerns the two large muscles that run up the middle of the back on either side of the spine.

Stifgf-leg deadlifts/Good mornings
For this area of the back I like to superset these two movements. First perform a set of stiff leg deadlifts. These should be done on a bench allowing the bar to touch the bench or the top part of the foot. The knees should be kept locked and the motion should be done in a smoot rhythm, never in a jerky motion.

Allow the back to do all the work. This exercise should be super-setted with Good monrings. This should also be done in a strict manner with knees locked. You should go all the way down on this exercise. When I say all the way down I mean allowing the chest to touch the front of the thighs on each rep. You won’t be able to use much weight at first, but it doesn’t matter, the poundage isn’t important, the stretch is. Each exercise should be performed 5 sets of 6 reps supersetted.

Now we come to the favorite part of the back…the lats. For this muscle group I perform a number of different exercises to givbe this muscle group plenty of variety.

Wide-grip Chins
This is one of the best for that V shape. Wide grip chins is one exercise done often but seldom correctly. Use a grip just about as wide as you can stand. Pull youself up keeping the elbows parallel, behind the bar.

Go only to the nose..yes, touch you r nose and not the back of your neck to the bar. At his point let your elbows go forward and slowly lower yourself to starting position. Do 5 sets of 10 reps.

Bent-Over Rowing with Barbell
I perform this exercise standing on a bench which brings the lower lat into play and gives the entire area a good stretch. The weight should be brought to the mid-section then lower slowly to full extension. This movement gives a lot of mass to the lower lat. Do 5 sets of 8 reps.

Close-grip Chins
To perform this movement correctly raise your body to the bar keeping the back arched throughout the enire movement and  trying to raise your body as high as possible. Try to touch your chest to the bar and allow a complete stretch in the down position. Do 5 sets of 8 reps.

One Arm Pulley Rows
I finish off my lat work with this movement. This will give the lats a terrific stretch if done correctly. The movement should be smooth, allowing a full extension on each rep. Do 5 sets of 10 reps without stopping.

There are almost an endless number of exercises you can perform for the back. Some of these are lat bar rowing, bent-arm pullovers, one arm-arm dumbbell rowing, behind neck pulldowns, etc. All of these are fine exercises and should be used from time to time. However, the ones I’ve outlined are the ones I am currently doing, but I do change my routine once every month.

Remember, perform a certain exercise only as long as you feel you are responding to it.

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